Senator Backs Indoor Air Standards for Schools
New York Senator Hillary Clinton supports establishing a federal regulation that would set standards for the indoor air quality of schools to reduce asthma and other health problems among school children.

Sen. Clinton testified at a hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) earlier this month.

A representative from Stuyvesant High School, a New York City school near Ground Zero, which was evacuated on Sept. 11, 2001 also attended the hearing. The school has dealt continuously with infiltrated by fumes, caustic dusts, lead and asbestos from the World Trade Center fires and debris operations since last fall.

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health found that 60 percent of the schools 300-plus employees’ health was affected by the dusts. The agency did not study the 3,000 students’ health.

An EPA spokesperson also pointed out that children could be exposed to other contaminants in schools including chemicals in cleaning products and pesticides.

Clinton also wants schools located near toxic sites or construction sites to be monitored for toxic dusts.

New Chemical Safety Resource Available Online
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has published a new Web page regarding chemical safety. The page includes links to NIOSH databases and other NIOSH resources, other government agency resources and material safety data sheets.

Hospital Cleaners to Help Reduce Domestic Abuse
Janitors at Jersey Community Hospital in Jerseyville, Ill., are being trained to recognize and report signs of domestic violence in hospital patients.

The program administrator for the hospital says training in recognizing signs of domestic violence and knowing what to do if there is a problem is crucial for the hospital’s entire staff.

Hospital officials are training janitorial staff because they could be the first people to recognize a problem. For example, janitors frequently clean rooms while patients go about their activities and conversations, so cleaning staff might hear of an abuse problem.

Guidelines Could Require Hand-Sanitizer Use Instead of Soap
Many hospitals are making the switch from soap to quick-drying alcohol-based hand sanitizers as evidence builds that the gels fight germs better than traditional hand washing.

The latest research, presented by the American Society for Microbiology, suggests the alcohol hand sanitizers are more effective than soap at cutting hospital germs because they are quicker, require no water or sink and kill more microbes.

During the past two years, some hospitals have installed alcohol gel dispensers beside every bed, and many more are planning to switch. New guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are expected to recommend hospitals use the alcohol gels exclusively, except when workers’ hands are visibly soiled. The CDC expects to release the guidelines later this fall.

Some hospitals have been reluctant to switch to the new cleaners because they cost more than regular soap. Some analysts say the alcohol products actually save hospitals money because they cut down on infections, which are expensive to treat.

Hospital research in the past five years has shown hand sanitizers cut hospital infections in half in some hospitals.

The alcohol rinses, available as foam, gel or lotion, are simple to use: Pour a dime-size amount of cleaner on one palm, then rub hands together until it dries — about 15 seconds. The solutions also contain moisturizers, to help avoid dry skin.

The alcohol solutions contain between 60 percent and 90 percent alcohol. They also are being tested by visitors and occupants in some school restrooms and child care centers, among other places.

This information is intended as a summary of legal information and should in no way be construed as legal advice. Contact your attorney before proceeding with any legal action.